Kishida elected Prime Minister of Japan, calls elections for October 31 | Politics News

Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called parliamentary elections for October 31 and vowed to strengthen the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, shortly after being officially confirmed by lawmakers as head of government.

Kishida, a 64-year-old former foreign minister with a consensus-builder image, earlier on Monday unveiled a cabinet composition dominated by allies of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former Finance Minister Taro Aso .

“I want to make sure that we implement bold, large-scale countermeasures and economic policies against coronaviruses. To do this, we have to ask people if they trust me, Kishida, to carry out these policies, ”he said at his inaugural press conference.

“I would like to pursue a policy of trust and compassion with the mandate of the people,” he said, drawing on the main theme of his campaign to become leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), making politics more accessible to the public.

While Kishida may enjoy a honeymoon period typically offered to new governments, analysts have said he probably doesn’t want to waste time, given the risks posed by the pandemic.

His decision to call an election surprised most analysts who expected the election to be held in November. Parliament will now be dissolved on October 14.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga enjoyed a support rate of around 70% shortly after taking office about a year ago, but has been battered by criticism of his handling of the pandemic, the leading to make way for a new face to lead the ruling PLD during the elections. .

Kishida, a former foreign minister with an image of a low-key consensus builder, beat three candidates for the party’s leadership last week, claiming he landed the prime minister’s post as the PLD has a majority in parliament.

“Kishida is wasting no time at all,” Tobias Harris, senior researcher at the Center for American Progress, said on Twitter.

“October 31 puts the opposition on its heels, enjoy a honeymoon in the polls, plus a better chance of lowercase numbers.”

Harris added: “If he wins comfortably in the general election and can hold things together well enough to win the upper house election next year, he will be up to three years without an election.”

Abe’s shadow

Kishida’s poll decision was likely influenced by not wanting to repeat a mistake made by Suga, who did not call an election while his support was still strong, analysts said.

“I believe he aims to organize the election before the general mood [towards the new cabinet] it’s cold, ”said Zentaro Kamei, senior researcher at the PHP Institute.

Kishida unveiled a cabinet featuring Abe’s allies, ensuring the influence of the latter’s conservative base.

He will replace all but two of the 20 ministerial posts under Suga and 13 are appointed to ministerial posts for the first time, according to Japanese media.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, who is Abe’s younger brother, will be retained.

Finance Minister Aso will rise to a senior party position and be replaced by his 68-year-old relative, Shunichi Suzuki. Other positions for Abe’s allies are the Commerce and Industry portfolio, which will be held by current Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda, a relative of Abe.

Kishida “won the elections with the support of Abe and Aso, so now is the time for him to reciprocate, now is not the time for him to cut them,” said political analyst Atsuo Ito, adding that Kishida tended to rate safety over bold action.

The prime minister will also create a new cabinet post aimed at tackling the economic dimensions of Japan’s national security, appointing Takayuki Kobayashi, 46, who is relatively new to parliament.

There are three women in the lineup, one more than Suga, but none of them hold a heavy wallet.

Veteran lawmaker Seiko Noda, one of four candidates for the party’s head, has become minister responsible for lowering the country’s birth rate and local revitalization.

Another woman, Noriko Horiuchi, has become Minister of Vaccinations, replacing Taro Kono, a finalist in the party’s leadership race.

An urgent task for the new leader will be to reverse his party’s declining popularity, hurt by Suga’s perceived aggressiveness over the pandemic and other issues.

It will also need to ensure that Japan’s health systems, vaccination campaign and other antiviral measures are ready for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in winter, while gradually normalizing social and economic activity.

Kishida is expected to deliver a political speech later this week before dissolving the lower house of parliament.

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